Low-growing ornamental grasses can be as appealing as tall, wide-spreading clusters. Dwarf ornamental grasses bring contrast, texture, and complexity to the environment while occupying less area than their larger counterparts. Aside from that, they’re easy to grow and require minimal maintenance.
They’re excellent for harmonizing the appearance of your garden and provide a subtle distinction between colorful flowers. There are several evergreen types of short grasses available. Many have multi-toned colors, making them a fantastic way to brighten your winter display.
Like their larger counterparts, petite ornamental grass species are resistant to pests and diseases that might otherwise destroy less hardy plants. When planted in a mass, compact ornamental grasses provide a groundcover through which few weeds can penetrate.
Like any other horticultural decision, choosing suitable grasses for your specific plot of land is critical to creating a thriving and beautiful landscape. Most species are robust and can thrive in various soil types, temperatures, and solar exposure cycles. Researching and selecting specimens that will survive in your environment is worth your time.
Here are a few popular decorative types of grass that stay compact and look fantastic in the landscape.
1. Pennisetum alopecuroides (Little Bunny)
Pennisetum alopecuroides (Little Bunny) is a short perennial grass that grows 16 to 20 inches tall and 20 to 24 inches broad and is ideal for compact gardens.
They are dark green in the summer, turn gold in the fall, and then fade to buff in the winter. The colorful foliage is generally stunning until frost. Like tiny foxtails, creamy-white blooms spike from the leaves in the middle to late summer.
They make beautiful cut flowers for both fresh and dried arrangements. They look great in rock gardens, containers, the front of the border, and beside ponds or streams.
2. Pennisetum alopecuroides (Burgundy Bunny)
Pennisetum alopecuroides (Burgundy Bunny) is a perennial grass that grows 12 to 16 inches tall and 16 inches wide, making it ideal for small gardens.
They start bright green in the summer, gradually turning red as the season progresses, turning a blazing crimson in the fall. It complements a wide range of landscape types and is quite adaptable. It can be used as a single specimen or in large quantities.
It’s great for adding texture, color, and contrast to beds and borders, and it’s especially lovely near ponds or streams, where its graceful shape is reflected in the water.
3. Acorus gramineus (Ogon)
Acorus gramineus (Ogon) is a dwarf plant with grass-like variegated leaf blades ranging from 6 to 12 inches and are patterned with yellow and green but predominantly appears yellow.
It has small yellow-green blossoms that give way to tiny scarlet berries from spring to early summer. This gorgeous plant can be used in a variety of ways. It is suitable for water gardens, rain gardens, stream or pond margins, bogs, and ground cover. It can be used as an aquarium plant, as well as to help reduce stream erosion.
4. Festuca glauca (Elijah Blue)
Festuca glauca (Elijah Blue) is a stunning dwarf ornamental grass that grows in a compact clump up to 8 to 12 inches tall and wide and is one of the most beautiful and colorful Blue Fescue varieties. In June, the leaves of highly textured, blade-like needles form a densely tufted bank capped by arched flower plumes.
Its silver leaves will complement the gray and white palettes of pebbles and stones beneath, making it an excellent addition to a rock garden.
5. Schizachyrium scoparium (The Blues)
Schizachyrium scoparium (The Blues or Little Bluestem) is found in prairies, fields, clearings, hillsides, limestone glades, roadways, waste areas, and open woods from Alberta to Quebec, Arizona, and Florida.
The Blues grows to 2 to 4 inches (rarely to 5 inches). It features pinkish stems and 14-inch-wide clumps of delicate, blue-tinted leaves on stiff, tall, broom-like stems. In the autumn, the foliage turns burgundy-red. In August, 3-inch-long racemes of purplish-bronze blooms develop on branching stalks towering above the foliage.
The blooms’ airy, silvery-white seed heads can last well into the winter. This grass’s most striking qualities are its blue leaves and fall hue.
6. Ophiopogon Japonicus ‘Nana’ (Mondo Grass)
Ophiopogon japonicus ‘Nana’ is a small mondo grass that produces thick tufts of arched, strap-shaped, green leaves. It is well-known for its modest size and lovely evergreen leaves. It’s a Japanese plant that has gardeners throughout the world enthralled.
This plant grows into a low-maintenance, no-mow grass that can sustain moderate to heavy foot traffic. It is ideal for beds and borders, groundcover edging, shrub underplanting, city gardens, seaside gardens, and gravel gardens.